By Ralph Sesay
The Academic Staff Association of Fourah Bay College has promptly reacted strongly to a memorandum from the Financial Secretary, Ministry of Finance drawing the attention of the University of Sierra Leone to ensure that all salary adjustments, recruitment and promotions are done with the concurrence of the Ministry of Finance or else they would not approve such adjustments.
ASA Further noted in their response that, the MOU signed between the University of Sierra Leone and Government regarding the taking over of the payment of salaries had not included promotions and recruitment issues.
The Association expressed their dismay that the Ministry of Finance would henceforth determine the payment of salaries and allowances relating to promotions and noted that these were not part of the MOU signed between the University and Government.
ASA reminded Government that the Staff of the University of Sierra Leone were recruited by the University Court and that promotions are determined by the relevant committees and not the government.
The Association also emphatically stated in their release that they would reject any attempt by the Ministry of Finance to usurp the powers and responsibilities of its employers –the University Court.
ASA also noted that the method of employment at the civil service was quite different from what obtains at the University.
The ASA release considers it unacceptable for the Ministry to determine the process because it would be open to abuse and for political reasons.
They further indicated that they would not take kindly the position of the Ministry to stall what they refer to as the upward salary adjustment of the University of Sierra Leone after an agreement was reached with the University authorities in the second quarter of the 2019 financial year.
They entreated the Ministry of Finance to withdraw the letter to the University of Sierra Leone work towards implementing the new salary structure presented by the Association.
ASA has also threatened that should the Ministry of Finance fail to adhere to their demands they will be left with no option but to resort to an industrial strike action after a period of twenty one days.
A correspondence from the Financial Secretary addressed to various MDA’s has indicated that government is hugely challenged in terms of managing the public sector payroll.
They have submitted that the issuance of new policy directives relating to salary adjustments, recruitments and promotions is amongst the steps been taken by the Ministry of Finance to generally improve on the management of the pay roll.
The Ministry noted that they are consistently challenged in meeting the financial obligations of salary adjustments, recruitments and promotions that according to them are made without reference to the Ministry of Finance.
This the Ministry indicated has led to the accumulation of salary arrears.
We are not sure how the current impasse would end especially so when the Office of the Vice President has just succeeded in quelling down a strike action at Njala University College where also the Academic Staff Association has challenged what they referred to as the illegal appointment of two deputy Vice Chancellors to two of its campuses.
ASA has given government an ultimatum to withdraw the two DVC’s as a pre-condition to get them back to work.
After few days the Ministry of Higher Education which made the appointments was forced to release the two DVC’s and advertise the two positions.
By Ralph Sesay